BoG to announce new capital for MoMo players

  • Foreign operators to cede 30% of business to locals
  • Banks to operate mobile money directly

The central bank is expected to soon announce a comprehensive stated capital structure for all players in the mobile money and payment systems.

The stated capital will affect players such as e-money issuers, payment service providers and application service providers.

Due to the varying levels of risk and exposure, the central bank is expected to introduce a tier system – such that an e-money issuer like Vodafone Cash will have a different stated capital compared to a payment service provider like Zeepay.

Dr. Settor Amediku, Head of Payment Systems at the Bank of Ghana, noted that with the Payment Systems and Services Act coming into force, the central bank is mandated to apply the law by issuing licences to institutions and individuals that pass the Fit and Proper Test in order to sustain confidence in the financial sector.

“All players who wants to do mobile money business must meet the minimum capital requirement to guarantee and ensure that they are fit and proper to do the business of electronic money. We will come out very soon and the Governor will announce this,” he said at the second quarterly B&FT-organised Ghana’s Most Respected CEOs Breakfast Series in Accra.

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This quarter’s event, which was on the theme ‘National Agenda for E-payment and Financial Inclusion: The Role of the Stakeholders’, came off in Accra and witnessed attendance by government executives, regulators, banks, Fintechs and other financial services providers and consumers, and was sponsored by Vodafone Business, eTranzact, Honda, Dalex and PwC.

Dr. Amediku added, that currently, no mobile money operator is licenced; and so with this new law the BoG will now licence all players – and while at it, foreign companies in the mobile money and payment space will have to cede 30 percent to local investors to qualify for a licence.

“If you take a mobile money operator who wants a licence, you must have a 30 percent local equity and this is a way to encourage our people to take part of the payment system,” he pointed out.

He added that for banks wanting to be involved in issuing e-money or undertaking direct mobile money services, they must set up a subsidiary to undertake such business and seek authorisation from the central bank since banks are already licenced.

“There are some banks that are very aggressive and have put in place measures to set up subsidiaries that will be authorised with a minimum capital requirement to operate mobile money. They will also behave like Vodafone Cash or MTN Mobile Money,” he said.

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Asked why aggregators – who do not hold any deposits but just provide a service to enable transfers – should provide stated capital, Dr. Amediku explained that it is a move to provide confidence in the market.

“They do not hold deposits, but we are not licencing only deposit-taking institutions. Globally, all payment service providers are licenced but the mode of services differ. The value of the minimum capital is in tiers because we are not interested in killing innovation, but there is a need for us to ensure that the young fintechs coming up are supported to grow.

“So, the capital requirement for a fully-fledged electronic money issuer will be different from that of an aggregator. We have a risk-based capital requirement we are coming out with. We need to ensure that the law fosters innovation, promotes growth and brings everybody along,” he added.

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